Journal article

The measurement of biomechanical properties of porcine articular cartilage using atomic force microscopy

We have recently demonstrated that indentation-type atomic force microscopy (IT-AFM) is capable of detecting early onset osteoarthritis (OA) (Stolz, 2009). This study was based on biopsies, using a desk-top commercial atomic force microscope (AFM). However, cartilage analysis in the knee joints needs to be non-destructive to avoid new seeding points for OA by the taking of biopsies. This requires bringing the probe tip in contact with the articular cartilage (AC) surface inside the joint. Here we present our recent progress towards a medical instrument for performing such IT-AFM measurements for in-vivo knee diagnostics. The scanning force arthroscope (SFA) integrates a miniaturized AFM into a standard arthroscopic sleeve, and is used for direct, quantitative, in situ inspection of AC (Imer et al., 2006). The stabilization and the positioning of the instrument relative to the surface under investigation were performed by means of eight inflatable balloons. An integrated three-dimensional, piezoelectric scanner allowed raster scanning and probing of a small area of cartilage around the point of insertion. An AFM probe with an integrated deflection sensor was mounted at the distal end of the instrument. Using this instrument, several measurements were performed on agarose gel and on porcine cartilage samples. The load-displacement curves obtained were analyzed and the dynamic elastic moduli vertical bar E*vertical bar were calculated. A good correlation between these values and those published in the scientific literature was found. Therefore, we concluded that the SFA can provide quantitative measurements to detect early pathological changes in OA.


    • EPFL-ARTICLE-164763

    Record created on 2011-04-08, modified on 2016-08-09


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